Mossyrock Dominates Its Way to District Title


MONTESANO — In many cases, the postseason is a whole different animal. But to the Mossyrock girls basketball team, the district tournament was just more of the same.

Coming into Saturday evening, the Vikings had gone 10-0 against district opponents this winter, with an average margin of victory of 41.7 points. 

Saturday at Montesano? A 63-22 win over Willapa Valley — cutting down the nets after a performance in a 41-point win that was nothing if not consistent.

And consistent to the Vikings’ success so far this year, it started with defense.

“We pride ourselves on defense, and that’s kind of what gets us going offensively,” Mossyrock coach Autumn Moorcroft said. “We struggled shooting-wise tonight, the three-point line was not our friend, but we found a way to get it done.”

Willapa Valley carved open the Mossyrock defense three times early in the first quarter, jumping out to a 6-2 lead. From there, the Lewis County Vikings gave their Pacific County counterparts absolutely nothing; Valley didn’t hit another shot until a prayer of a halfcourt heave went in at the buzzer on the first quarter to make it 14-9 in favor of Mossyrock.

After that, it would be nearly 12 minutes of gametime before Valley scored again — a dry spell that included the entire second quarter and half of the third.

Meanwhile, Mossyrock harried Valley to the tune of 15 first-half turnovers, and 26 on the night.

“We knew that they don’t like the pressure up front, so jumping between our man press and our zone press kind of kept them out of sorts,” Moorcroft said.

Caelyn Marshall benefit from a fair few of those turnovers, scoring six of her 11 second-quarter points in transition.

“She just ran the floor really well,” Moorcroft said.

Mossyrock led 30-9 at halftime after its second-quarter shutout, a lead that turned into 25 points a couple of possessions into the third quarter. From there, the Vikings went cold from the field, but the defense made sure that Valley could never get closer than 17 points.

Then with a minute and a half to go, Payton Torrey found Hailey Brooks for an easy look in the post. The very next Mossyrock possession, Brooks got another basket down low, and a third the possession after that.

“The last few minutes there, Hailey broke loose,” Moorcroft said. “She really changed the momentum in the third quarter that set the pace for the rest of the game.”

Marshall led Mossyrock with 19 points, and Brooks finished with 13. The bulk of Marshall’s points in transition — like the bulk of Brooks’ down low — came off feeds from Torrey, who took a distributing role the whole night.

“I’m the type of player where I don’t care if I score the most points,” Torrey said. “I care more about assists, or steals, or rebounds, like the dirty work.”

Ironically enough, the only thing keeping Mossyrock’s leading scorer from her first triple-double of the season happened to be the points total; Torrey never got into her groove early, and briefly had a double-double just on assists and rebounds alone.

Come the fourth quarter, though, she found the bottom of the bucket on a putback, and went to work from there, scoring 10 points in a four-minute span to get her triple-double with 18 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists. 

“Payton, she sees the floor really well,” Moorcroft said. “Even when she’s struggling with her own looks offensively, she’s really good at finding her teammates. She’s a great leader.”

Torrey also logged eight steals, coming two away from a quadruple-double.

The district title is Mossyrock’s second since moving down to the 1B ranks three seasons ago. The Vikings are almost assured of a top-eight seed in the 1B State tournament, but will learn for sure Sunday, before preparing for a regional matchup and a trip to Spokane after that.

“It feels great. Coming a game short last year, the girls really wanted to get back here,” Moorcroft said. “That was one of the major goals this year — be top of the league and win the district championship. We’ve met two of our goals this year, and next is to trophy at State.”